Public Interest NGOs in Northeast Asia to Raise Issues on Human Right Violations by Toxic ChemicalsPhoto: NordForsk/Terje Heiestad, Flickr (All Creative Commons)

Starting from 13 September, a group of NGOs from the Republic of Korea and China will participate in the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland to raise awareness on workers and consumers who lost their health and lives due to chemical substances, and to urge governments and corporations to take responsibility for their actions.

Public Interest NGOs in Northeast Asia to Raise Issues on Human Right Violations by Toxic ChemicalsPhoto: NordForsk/Terje Heiestad, Flickr (All Creative Commons)

Baskut Tuncak, the Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes’ report on his mission to the Republic of Korea will be presented and adopted at the 33rd Human Rights Council.

The Special Rapporteur undertook an official mission to the Republic of Korea in 2015 and investigated the harm caused by chemicals substances to consumers, workers, children, and local communities and in particular, the occupational illnesses of Samsung Electronics workers and lung disease of humidifier disinfectant users.

In the report, the Special Rapporteur recommends the Korean government to take decisive steps to implement the recommendations to minimize the negative impact of hazardous substances and wastes on human rights. Also, the Special Rapporteur recommends the National Human Rights Commission to make recommendations to relevant ministries on the challenges faced by victims of chronic exposure to hazardous substances, who may develop diseases many years after exposure, in establishing causation and accessing an effective remedy.

In particular, the Special Rapporteur makes recommendations to Samsung Electronics and Oxy Reckitt Benckiser, two corporations responsible for the human rights violations of numerous workers and consumers, to provide compensation, cooperate actively in good faith and with public participation, and issue a sincere apology to all victims. The Special Rapporteur’s report will be presented on 15 Sept. in the afternoon (Geneva time).

In time for the presentation of the Special Rapporteur’s report, public interest NGOs including the Supporters of Health and Right of People in Semiconductor Industry (SHARPS) and Korea Center for United Nations Human Rights Policy (KOCUN) from the Republic of Korea, and Labor Action China from China will visit Geneva and engage in the activities described below to raise awareness on the gravity of these issues and to urge governments, corporations, and international organizations including the UN to take action against these human rights violations.

The events are scheduled as follows:

Press conference with civil society organizations
Date: Wednesday, 14 Sept., 2:00-3:30pm
Place: Conference room, International Service for Human Rights(ISHR),
Rue de Varembé 1, 1211 Geneva

Street performance for victims of hazardous substances
Date: Wednesday, 14 Sept., 4:00-4:30pm
Place: Broken Chair, Place des Nations, 1202 Geneva

Presentation of the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on hazardous wastes and substances
Date: Thursday, 15 Sept., Afternoon session
Place: Room XX (20), Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva

Photo exhibition and panel discussion on hazardous wastes (see the attachment to this article)
Date: Friday, 16 Sept., 3:00-4:00pm,
Place: Room XXI (21), Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva